The Red Bank Lions looked like a lottery winner Friday night as they continued to display an embarrassment of riches offensively, thumping Class 5A Lenior City to the tune of 42-7 at Tom Weathers Field to remain among the state’s 22 unbeaten squads.
The state’s third-ranked Class 3A squad moved to 9-0 and will try to complete their first undefeated regular season next week at Loudon since the late coach Tim Daniels’ 2009 Lions’ squad ran the table before falling in the state quarterfinals that year.
“The great thing about this squad is you don’t have to trick them with motivation.
They wanted that region title, and they want that undefeated regular season and they work hard every day in practice. What you see out here on Friday nights, is what I see every day at practice and in the weight room. The undefeated regular season matters to these kids,” said Red Bank coach Chris Brown.
The Lions, a state semifinalist a year ago, have steamrolled through their last six opponents after a slow start, averaging just under 50 points a game with an average margin of victory just over 40 points.
“We play six to seven sophomores out there every night, and those young kids have become veterans at this point. We’ve got some special players for sure,” Brown added.
There may not be a more special player in this town than Calvin Jackson and the senior speedster put on a show. With the visiting Panthers loading up the box to take away the Lions’ running game, Jackson was happy to move out to the slot where he and quarterback Madox Wilkey played pitch-and-catch all night.
Wilkey carved up the LC defense with the precision of a surgeon, connecting on 22 of his 29 passes for 319 yards and three TD passes.
None were any more electrifying than the short catch Jackson took down the left sideline before reversing it all the way across the field for a 54-yard score to open the second half to make it 35-0.
“As a defensive minded coach that was a great eight-yard play that he turned into an unbelievable touchdown. He’s just one of those guys who can take it to the house every time he catches it,” Brown explained.
Opinioned Jackson: “As soon as they called the play, I knew it was a touchdown. I probably made it a little more exciting than it had to be, but you know, the highlight tape,” he laughed.
Jackson wound up with a pair of TD runs and the highlight reel catch for score and finished with 210 total yards on the night. He rushed for 65 on nine carries and caught another nine passes for 145 yards.
“I was excited about the game tonight and have been all week,” said Wilkey. “We knew on tape they would load it up to stop the run and there would be some opportunities in the passing game. As a quarterback, you are always excited for game like this.”
The Lions started early and scored often, getting TDs on their first seven offensive possessions, including all four in the first half. Red Bank racked up 26 first downs, 461 total yards and only faced third down four times until their final drive which resulted in its only punt of the night. Fourteen of Wilkey’s completions accounted for first downs.
“We started the season slow this year, but a lot of that was because we didn’t have Calvin here with his hamstring injury. We’ve never not had Calvin, so it was different, but since he has been healthy, we’ve been a pretty good offense,” Wilkey explained.
Jackson was quick to divert such attention, though.
“Man this team just has so many guys who can go get it. It’s a hungry team and to be honest the fact we have so many weapons out there has made it a lot easier on me this year. We got the region title, and we want the undefeated regular season, but it’s that gold ball we really want,” Jackson said.
Red Bank scored on drives of 62, 71, 96 and 91 yards in the first half. And while the Wilkey to Jackson tune got played a whole lot over the loudspeaker on the night, Lucas Brown was equally as effective, hauling in a 12-yard score and 56-yard score in the first half, finishing with seven catches for 110 yards.
And not to be outdone, the Lion defense ate too. The Panthers had scored 40 or more in four of their five wins coming in and quarterback Gabe Williams was a special talent, but the Lions
twice held them on downs inside the 10 yard line that initial half.
“They are really good with their scheme in space, and we knew if we were just patient we could stop them once the field shrank and that’s what happened on both of those deep drives. My assistant coaches put in a heck of a game plan for tonight and they deserve all the credit,” Brown praised.
Red Bank took the 28-0 lead to halftime dressing room and after a stop on downs to start the second half, put it away with Jackson’s razzle dazzle to kick the mercy rule into play which shortened the second half considerably with a running clock.
Lenoir City avoided the shutout with Williams finding Cody Clevenger for a 61-yard score in the final period. Williams finished with 173 passing yards, but the Panther running game was voided with the big lead and had only 69 rushing yards on 20 carries. And Williams had 22 of those on one scramble.
LENOIR CITY 0 0 0 7 – 7
RED BANK 14 14 7 7 – 42
RB – Calvin Jackson 4 run (kick failed) (8:05, 1st)
RB – Lucas Brown 12 pass from Madox Wilkey (Xavier Doss pass from Calvin Jackson) (4:15, 1st)
RB – Lucas Brown 56 pas from Madox Wilkey (Kyle Smith kick) (10:21, 2nd)
RB – Clark Lockerby 1 run (Kyle Smith kick) (0:32, 2nd)
RB – Calvin Jackson 54 pass from Madox Wilkey (Kyle Smith kick) (9:07, 3rd)
RB – Calvin Jackson 1 run (Kyle Smith kick) (9:05, 4th)
LC – Cody Clevenger 61 pass from Gabe Williams (Wyatt Morton Kick) (6:47, 4th)
LC STATS RB
13 1st Downs 26
20-69 Rush 25-142
173 Pass 319
242 Total 461
13-24-0 Passes 22-29-0
4-30 Penalties 5-45
2-26.5 Punts 1-32.0
1-0 Fumbles 1-0
Rushing: Gabe Williams 11-45, Preston Adams 8-26 (LC); Calvin Jackson 9-65, Lumiere Strickland 18-37, DeAngelo Ross 4-41 (RB)
Passing: Gabe Williams 13-24-0 173 yards (LC); Madox Wilkey 22-29-0 319 yards (RB)
Receiving: Cody Clevenger 2-71, Kaleb Aikens 3-39, Devin Noah 4-33, Cody Wilhite 3-22 (LC); Calvin Jackson 9-145, Lucas Brown 7-110, Lumiere Strickland 2-34, Nate Doss 1-11, Sincere Thomas 1-10, Tyler Jones 1-9 (RB)
Records: Lenoir City 5-4, 2-1 (4-5A); Red Bank 9-0 3-0 (3-3A)
(Contact James Beach via email at email@example.com or Twitter @beachnut1134)